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What Corsi Tells Us About Zenon Konopka

One of the more interesting players last year in terms of sabermetrics was Zenon Konopka who played with the New York Islanders and signed this summer with the Ottawa Senators.  He winds up near the bottom of raw Corsi lists but played a tough role on a poor team. 

Commenter steviestevie saw this and commented It’ll be interesting to see what Konopka’s performance looks like when more numbers are taken into account. He’s not exactly a world-beater, but he was pretty much thrown to the wolves taking tons of d-zone faceoff for a club whose transition game last year can best be described as “Is Grabner on the ice? No? *#&$%^!” in the worst team adjusted Corsi list.

Zenon Konopka had the third worst raw Corsi rating in the NHL last year.  This means that in 5 on 5 situations when Zenon Konopka was on the ice, the puck was usually under control of the Islanders’ opposition.  No other forward in the league had as poor a raw Corsi rating.  After team adjustment, things do not get much better.  Konopka is fourth worst as Tanner Glass, who played with the Canucks drops below him.  Konopka played a tough defensive role with the team and this accounts for much of his poor puck possession numbers.  He had the third largest imbalance of defensive zone starts in the league.  With that correction, Konopka moves well out of the worst players in the league.  He is no world beater, but he improves quite a lot.

Konopka has the third worst team and zone adjusted Corsi rating on the New York Islanders in 2010/11.  Matt Martin and Milan Jurcina are worse.  These numbers show that Konopka is an acceptable NHL player who played a tough role for the Islanders.  He is no world beater, but he is NHL calibre.

There are other facets of Konopka’s game to consider to get his full value.  He takes a lot of penalties.  He takes about twice as many penalties as he draws.  This forces his team to kill penalties because of him.  Konopka is a second line penalty killer with the Islanders.  He does a reasonable job on the penalty kill.  Konopka is a good faceoff man.  He had the fourth best faceoff winning record in the league.  That is why he was used in so many defensive zone starts.  Konopka was used for defensive zone faceoffs by the Islanders with little concern to the quality of opposition.  In fact, the quality of opposition he played against was not very strong.

All told, Zenon Konopka is a role player.  He is NHL calibre.  He isn’t a key player on any NHL team, but he has a use.  Most NHL team would be able to use him as a faceoff specialist and defensive player.  He has little offensive value.  In fact his nine points last season were a career best. 

A player like Konopka is a probably not good enough to get a regular shift on a truly top level NHL team, but most teams are not truly at the top level.  There are a lot of teams that are well back of Stanley Cup contention like the New York Islanders last year and the Ottawa Senators in the upcoming season.  Konopka has had plenty of opportunity to play his role on this kind of weaker team and play a regular shift.

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Comments

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While I feel Konopka is useful, I think his use is limited to teams who struggle territorially.  His best attribute is his ability to win faceoffs.  This isn’t a particularly valuable skill, nor do I think he would be killing penalties on a halfway decent club. 

You’re not likely to win or lose games on the strength of a player like this, but good teams can certainly do better.

Posted by Triumph on 08/16/11 at 01:57 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Faceoff wins are monumentally important.. especially consistently..

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 08/16/11 at 02:09 PM ET

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No one wins faceoffs consistently.  The best faceoff player in the league can’t even win 2 out of 3 ‘consistently’.  Faceoff wins are probably the most overrated stat there is.

Posted by Triumph on 08/16/11 at 02:27 PM ET

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All told, Zenon Konopka is a role player.  He is NHL calibre.  He isn’t a key player on any NHL team, but he has a use.  Most NHL team would be able to use him as a faceoff specialist and defensive player.  He has little offensive value.  In fact his nine points last season were a career best.

A player like Konopka is a probably not good enough to get a regular shift on a truly top level NHL team, but most teams are not truly at the top level…Konopka has had plenty of opportunity to play his role on this kind of weaker team and play a regular shift. 


This is about what I thought of the guy to begin with. Nice work crunching the #s.

Posted by steviesteve on 08/16/11 at 02:34 PM ET

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I know without question I would’ve paid an extra $100k to land Konopka rather than MacIntyre for the Pens.  Our team is rather weak at faceoffs to begin with and Konopka would’ve helped in that area considerably.  Bummer.

Posted by Geno71 on 08/16/11 at 03:07 PM ET

Da lil Guy's avatar

I’d be interested to take a more detailed look at the penalties Kanopka takes - He had 25 fighting majors (125 mins), which don’t result in being down a man and by definition take an opposing player away as well. He also had 2 game misconducts (20 mins) and 10 ten minute misconducts (100 mins). These put the team at a slight disadvantage because you’ve got a short bench, but Konopka plays 4th line minutes for the most part so it’s not a huge loss.

If you take away those penalties from his total PIMs (307 mins) it leaves 62 minutes accounted for by minors. Even the most ‘sportsmanlike’ player will put the puck over the glass, be forced to close his hand on the puck to prevent a goal, or be caught running interference or hooking other players from time to time. So you could probably lose a few more minutes of that 62 before you got something that amounted to the ‘goon stuff’.  I wonder if he is really all that bad when compared to other role player types in terms of forcing his team to kill uneccessary penalties.

At any rate, it will all seem pretty underwhelming to Sens fans when compared to Chris Neil, I think.

Posted by Da lil Guy from Guelph, Ontario on 08/16/11 at 04:11 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Konopka’s penalties caused 23 penalty kills for his team.  He drew 13 penalties from his opponents.  That makes him -10 in a penalty +/-.  Which is significant enough that it should be noted..

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 08/16/11 at 04:42 PM ET

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Zenon’s upside:  Lots of face-off wins
Zenon’s downside: Lots of really dumb penalties, even if you take away the Islanders automatic 10 minute misconduct penalties.

Didn’t really cry when he left, but you guys should really try to get to know his bunny.

Posted by BriOnLI from LI, NY on 08/17/11 at 11:20 AM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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